When a patient books in at the reception desk and you identify that the Doctor/Nurse or other healthcare professional is running more than half an hour behind schedule PLEASE inform the patient before they sit down.
No one likes to be kept waiting, but everyone would rather be told and given the option to wait or re book another appointment.
Lack of communication can often lead to a complaint or even worse someone getting aggressive.
When a patient comes to the desk you could say:
“I apologise but Dr Smith is running about 35 minutes late this morning – he had an emergency / visit to do. Would you like to wait or would you like to re-book another appointment?”
By doing this you are giving the patient a choice. If they choose to wait then they can not come back to the reception desk after 25 minutes and complain – which they more than likely would have done if they had not been informed.
- It also gives the patient a chance to go to the paper shop/car to get something to keep them occupied while waiting.
- They might want to make a phone call to tell someone who they are running late.
- They simply might need to go to the toilet.
They would be reluctant to do any of the 3 above if they did not know they were in for a wait – they would sit there waiting to be called in at any minute.
If the patient cannot wait for various reasons, it gives them the opportunity to re-book at a time suitable to them. By patients booking another appointment it will lessen the already late and give the Doctor / Nurse a change to catch up.
Always try to defuse any potential complaint. It is always better to try and solved a situation sooner rather than later.
Always look ahead.